178 MY COUNTRY AND MY PEOPLE are now gratuitously fed by their children, as if they had not done their bit in bringing up the young in their prime of life! Or else, these old men of the West are continually shouting to people that they are still young in spirit, which of course makes them look ridiculous. No well-bred Chinese would gratuitously offend an old man, just as no well-bred Western gentleman would intentionally offend a lady. Some of that fine feeling is now gone, but a great part of it still remains in most Chinese families. That accounts for the poise and serenity of old age. China is the one country in which the old man is made to feel at ease. I am sure this general respect for old age is a thousand times better than all the old-age pensions in the world. On the other hand, this theory of differentiated status has brought about privilege, always charming to the privileged classes and, until recently, also to their admirers. While the respect for old age is unquestionably good, the respect for scholars and officialdom is both good and bad. The social acclaim of the "literary wrangler," the first man in the im- perial examinations, was something to touch a mother's heart, and many a maiden's, too. There he was, mounted on a white horse, personally decorated by the Emperor, parading the streets as the first and cleverest scholar of the land, a veritable Prince Charming, for it was important, too, that the first scholar should look handsome. Such was the glory of being a distinguished scholar, and such was the glory of being a mandarin official. Whenever he went out, a gong sounded announcing his coming, and yamen1 servants cleared the way, brushing the passers-by away like so much dirt. The yamen servants had always been invested with part of their master's power and glory. What though they accidentally maimed or killed a man or two! One cannot read old Chinese novels without coming upon such a scene. We do not call it power and glory; we call it "glowing fire and lapping flames," glorious as a conflagration. The yamen servants* only worry was that they might come across another train belonging to an official of higher rank (for so works the Doctrine of Status), which would dampen 1 Yamen is the headquarters of an official.